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Our One-Sided Commemorations: Communist Party

October 22, 2003

The following article appeared as an editorial in "The Guardian", newspaper of the Communist Party of Australia.


Editorial: Our one-sided commemorations

The Howard Government and Howard personally are conducting a relentless campaign to militarise the thinking of the Australian people in pursuit of the phoney "war against terrorism". Howard has gone to the APEC heads of government meeting in Bangkok pushing this Western-promoted "war without end" high up the agenda. His aim is to involve the other nations in the US's imperialist campaign for global domination.

The commemoration conducted in Bali was also used towards the same ends. Sheriff Howard once again pushed himself into the front row, this time to promote his cynical sympathy for the Australians killed in the Kuta blast.

The cynicism of this display of compassion was rather unexpectedly but none-the-less dramatically revealed by the photo of Howard holding hands with two children whose Indonesian mother had died in the blast. The bereaved children had been specifically denied a visa to visit their father who is locked up in a camp in Australia. He is a refugee from Iran and is on the list to be deported. Their father is the children's only living parent. But does this engender any sympathy from the Australian immigration authorities? Absolutely not!

Even after the publication of the photograph and the publicity given to the children's plight, Minister Amanda Vanstone calmly offers the response, "I have asked my department to pursue with vigour the man's reunion with his children in Iran". A reunion but not in Australia! The father must first accept deportation back to where he fled from.

However, this is only one facet of the Bali commemoration. The tragedy is being squeezed relentlessly by the media and the government. We are regaled with stories of heroism that are undoubtedly true but presented in such a way as to suggest that it is only Australians who display such heroism and compassion for others.

But the people of many other countries are experiencing Bali tragedies every day. What of the people of Palestine whose homes are being flattened by Israeli bulldozers and tanks and many men, women and children killed. Do those who die not deserve to be remembered? Do the Palestinian people not also show compassion to those rendered homeless with family members killed?

What of the victims of the war in Iraq? What of the people of Bolivia where government police and military have killed about 70 people demonstrating against the grinding poverty inflicted by the policies imposed by the World Bank and the IMF? Do they not also suffer and cry and help one another?

What about the people of Vietnam who are still suffering the consequences of Agent Orange sprayed on them by the US military invaders so ably helped by Australian forces? What of the mothers who bear deformed children? How often is a commemoration held for the many more victims of Australia's invasion of their land. The Vietnamese were not invading Australia. It was Australia that was invading their homeland.

We do not even have to go overseas to show that the compassion of the Government, media and, unfortunately, many Australians is very one-sided.

Just recently the Indigenous newspaper Koori Mail recalled the 75th anniversary of the massacre by police of up to 100 Aboriginal men, women and children at Coniston in the Northern Territory in 1928. (See story opposite.)

Where are the monuments erected by any Australian government? When have the white Australian population lit candles in memory of those killed - possibly a larger number than the 88 Australians who lost their lives in Bali? Which church commemorates this act of genocide - only one among the many massacres of the Indigenous people as the invaders stole their land and attempted to eliminate them completely? The Government cannot even say "Sorry".

It is suggested that the tragedy of Bali will be commemorated "for ever". The Indigenous people merely request that the massacre at Coniston should be taught as part of the history of Australia.

As part of the Remembrance Day commemorations (November 11) the Prime Minister is to go to London to open yet another war memorial. And so the hypocrisy goes on.

The commemoration of those who lost their lives is a normal human reaction, but if we fail to act decisively to eliminate war, ever more statues, war memorials and candles will be lit to mark the inhumanity committed while some make use of this sentiment to hide their real monstrous agenda.

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